Worship 1, 2, 3

I, along with the worship leader’s at Gateway, am reading a book called Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper.  In this book, there are several convicting and informative chapters which force us to take a hard look at what worship really is and how we are to lead our congregations in worship. The story of worship is, Cosper explains, “God creates, sin corrupts, but Christ redeems. And all of us get to sing along.”

Worship, in my opinion, has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the church. One group cries out for depth and reverence, another for contextualization, while yet another for stylistic flavor. Cosper rightly asks the question, “Who’s right? Who has the weight of the Bible on their side? What should worship look like among the exiles who enjoy God’s grace here and now, yet suffer with sin and its destructive consequences, all the while eagerly anticipating Christ’s return?”

I want to briefly share with you his attempt to answer this question. He suggests three helpful guardrails for understanding worship in the church.

Worship 1,2,3

  • One object and author
  • Two contexts
  • Three audiences
  1. The Object: God is the center and object of our worship.
    The Author: He created everyone and everything including worship.
  2. Contexts:
    1. Worship Scattered-  “Spirit-filled life of the Christian in the world.”
    2. Worship Gathered- “The meeting of God’s people to remember, encourage and bless one another."
  3. Audiences: God, The Church and the World.

Number three is where I’d like to spend my time in this blog post. It was eye opening to me because I have held positions in the past where I hyper-focused on which audience our corporate worship services should be built for. Yes, God is the object of our worship but that is not what we are talking about in this step. When we focus solely on God as the audience of our corporate worship service, we ignore Scripture which illustrates for us that worship is also to encourage the church and to be a witness for the world to see us in worship of God. Those are our “Audiences.”

Ephesians 5:19 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Even as we see in the Psalms, Israel was called to worship on top of the wall because it was an encouragement to each other as well as a witness to the surrounding communities. Their worship was heard for miles. When we say, “We shouldn’t sing songs about God, only songs to God” or “All these songs are man-centered and not God-centered,” I would remind us of the words of Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound                                                       That saved a wretch like me 
I once was lost, but now am found
T'was blind but now I see
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Lots of references to “I, Me, My” as well as what God has done for us - “grace.” The Psalms are full of David’s laments and cries to God to save and deliver him as well as proclaiming the goodness of God. Cosper says, “The gathering should be a place where believers are built up and encouraged in the midst of the various trials and circumstances of their lives. So when we gather, we sing to each other. We declare the truths of the gospel to one another. Our presence and our participation is not merely for the sake of our individual relationship with God, demonstrating our confidence and hope, but it’s also for our brother’s and sister’s sake.” When we sing corporately, we are speaking the truth in love to those around us and maybe in some instances, we are the one receiving the truth.

Finally, the World as our audience:“Just as the Psalms declare the wonders of God to all of Israel, they declare them to the nations” (Psalm 96:3).

Pastor Tim Keller says, “... God wants the world to overhear us worshipping Him. God directs His people not to simply worship, but to sing His praises ‘before the nations.’ We are not to simply communicate the gospel to them, but celebrate the gospel before them.”

Read that again, “We are not to simply communicate the gospel to them, but celebrate the gospel before them.” WOW!  What an amazing vision and reminder for us.

"Worship that celebrates the gospel brings all three audiences together: The God who saves by the gospel, the church formed by the gospel and the world in need of the gospel (Cosper)."

My prayer is that we allow this perspective to frame our understanding of corporate worship at Gateway Church. Preaching the Gospel through praise and preaching is designed for 3 different audiences and may that ever be on our mind as we gather together, encourage one another and  proclaim the Gospel.



Worship Sets for 12/09-10/17


-Before the Throne of God

-Go Tell It On The Mountain / This is Amazing Grace Mash-up

-Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

-A Day of Glory

-Lamb of God

North Main                                                  

-Go Tell It On The Mountain / This is Amazing Grace Mash-up          

-Joy To The World    

-All The Poor and Powerless

-Angels We Have Heard On High